Lily Mae Avant, 10, a girl from Texas, contracted a brain-eating amoeba with a 97% fatality rate after she swam in the Brazos River and Lake Whitney in Bosque County near Waco over Labor Day weekend.
On September 8, Lily began having a headache, and it was quickly followed by a fever. "She was incoherent, unresponsive and was quickly swept up and taken to the ER," the family described the symptoms. At the Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth she was diagnozed infected with Naegleria fowleri. Over the course of a few days, Avant's condition deteriorated. She is currently in a medically-induced coma. Many other people were in the same waters on the same days but only Lily Mae became ill. Avant is currently on her seventh day of showing symptoms, something her family is choosing to see as a positive sign. Her family shares updates on her condition through a Facebook group, #LilyStrong, with more than 16,500 members.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the amoeba is a single-cell living organism commonly found in warm freshwater like lakes and rivers. Between 2009 and 2018, the CDC says only 34 cases of the Naegleria fowleri infection were reported in the US. But only four people out of the 145 known cases survived between 1962 and 2018.